Top positive review
Beautifully written - very thoughtful and with a light touch
14 November 2016
I had picked this novel up to read it several times previously but always put it down again after the first couple of books. Something made me keep it though and I'm glad I did. Timing and mood worked together on this occasion and I enjoyed reading the literary take on the architectural aspects during war (World War Two) through the eyes of a man who is searching for his place in the world.
The phrasing and musicality of the prose is lovely but it took me a while to get used to the unusual words that the author writes - I am fairly well read but still found myself regularly checking definitions. Out of the ordinary phrasing makes this book one which needs to be read properly rather than skimming it - eg rather than describe someone as private the author says "a natural fugitive from disclosure".
Diaries are often used to show comparisons between time periods and how the human spirit is constant. This works well here, with our narrator looking back to a little known Liverpudlian architect in the 1860s.
I didn't find this book easy to pick up at every chance but enjoyed reading it quietly so that the language could be absorbed. It is a mature book which wants the reader to think about what it is saying and I was surprised when I found out this was a debut novel.
Another example of the thoughtful prose is "a family is only as happy as it's unhappiest member" - not sure I completely agree but it made me think for a while.
The build up to the ending was completely in keeping with the light touch of the whole book and the ending itself was perfect - natural with many questions left unanswered.